No. 557



In 1959, I came to Conway, Arkansas, to attend a football game. This was the year after I had dropped out of Arkansas A&M College in Monticello, and the Boll Weevils were playing their AIC (Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference) host rivals, the State Teachers College Bears. If I recall, the score was Bears 55, Boll Weevils 18.
That night the Bears had a back by the name of Henry Hawk, and the Boll Weevils just could not stop him. He literally ran wild. I think he could have taken a handoff from the quarterback, run up into the stands, had a Coke, and still have scored. At that time, I had no idea that later in life I would get to know Henry Hawk, and would be blessed to call him a friend.
Over the past several years, as I have gotten to know Henry, I have developed a deep respect for him, because of his attitude and approach to life. He believes in being your best, regardless of where you are. After his college days, he went on to distinguish himself in a number of different fields, most notably as a marathon runner. He has run the Boston Marathon 10 times, with a personal best of two hours and 42 minutes. When he was 61 years of age, he set the World Indoor Mile Record with a time of 5:13.27 (60-65 age group.) In February 2006, he was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
There is much more that I could tell you about Henry Hawk's athletic, business and civic background, but here I want to focus on a relatively new career that enables him to use his education, skills, training and approach to life to help other people. He is currently serving on the Baptist Health 55-Plus Board and conducts fitness and weight management classes on a regular basis at this leading hospital. Again, Henry Hawk is making a difference because his personal philosophy, "be your best, regardless of where you are," is a part of him.
Several months ago I got a phone call from Henry to tell me about a patient he was really excited about, who had made remarkable progress. This was a 64-year-old lady who was confined to a wheelchair because she fell in 2002 and suffered a spinal cord injury. He says, "When she joined our class it was difficult for her to get out of her chair and lean against the wall. She shuffled her feet along, as she leaned on an extension placed on top of her walker. She could not lift her right leg at all, and could lift her left leg only a couple inches."
Earlier, this lady, whose name is Imogene, had received a notice about Henry's classes but thought to herself, "I can't get to the classes and would not be able to do the exercises if I did." Still, she prayed for God to send someone to help her. It was not long after this that she received a second notice about the fitness classes, so she took this as a sign from God that this is where she should be.
When she first came to his class, Henry shared with her his definition of a commitment that consists of four factors: "1. Decide what you want to be or do. The majority of your interests and talents should be in this area. 2. How far do you want to go into this venture? You set your goals based on this decision. 3. Have a plan. A written plan can keep a person from being distracted from whatever they need to do. It's "plan your work, work your plan." 4. Change your lifestyle. This is difficult for most people and prevents many from making a commitment. What you are doing may not allow you to do the necessary work to become your best."
Today, Imogene is using a walker and taking small, independent steps, something they thought would be totally out of the question when she first began. Here is that thought once more, "Be your best, regardless of where you are." Helping others do that, and service beyond self, is what true happiness is all about.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark. 72034. To support literacy, buy his book, "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")